Alternate title: Sloths, Cloud Forrest, and Coffee. These were just a few of my highlights from our week in Costa Rica last January. My former London expat gals Shirley and Jessie decided a trip to Central America was just the trick to ease ourselves back into Seattle life. The chance to see monkeys and sloths while sipping Costa Rican coffee also played into our decision.
January through March is the dry season and recommended time to visit. We broke our trip into 3 segments. We flew in and out of San Jose and spent two nights near Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and three nights outside Manuel Antonio National Park.
We booked a car service since we didn’t want to waste any time interpreting bus schedules or navigating our own rental car. The cost of a private driver was surprisingly affordable split between the three of us. It also gave us the benefit of an unofficial tour guide stuck at the wheel to answer our questions and share local advice before dropping us off at each destination.
We merely scratched the surface of this beautiful country. Costa Ricans are known for saying and embracing the lifestyle of “Pura vida”. A direct translation means “Pure life”, yet the words chameleon into various meanings including “No worries”, “All good”, and “Enjoy life”. Similar to these two words, Costa Rica seems easy to categorize from afar. And then you arrive and realize it’s much more than coffee, beaches, or monkeys. Costa Rica has a rich coastline, vast forests, national parks, delicious food, and most importantly, welcoming people.
Pura vida, mis amigos.
Know Before You Go
Where to Stay and Dine
- In Monteverde we stayed in the town of Santa Elena at the Mar Inn Bed and Breakfast. It’s colder at this elevation so pack a few warmer items.
- In Manuel Antonio we stayed at The Falls Resort.
- Tucan Limo Services was amazing. Tell Rosie and Luis I say hello. I cannot recommend them enough.
Don’t stress too much about booking things in advance. Our hotels booked everything for us upon arrival and we were traveling during high season.
- Costa Rica represents the 0.03% of the landmass of the planet but has the 5% of the biodiversity of the world. Seeing the Monteverde Cloud Forest is a must-do to appreciate the ecotourism of Costa Rica.
- We walked along 8 hanging suspension bridges on the Treetop Tour at Selvatura Park, near Monteverde.
- Explore Manuel Antonio National Park. We booked a guided tour and it was worth the price tag because our tour guide pointed out things we’d never have noticed with the naked eye: bugs, frogs, birds, sloths, and monkeys. The cost also included transport to and from our hotel, a snack, and skipping the long entrance line.